Space shuttle Enterprise took its final journey Wednesday to its retirement home on a floating museum off the western edge of New York City.
A 500-ton crane hoisted the vessel, named after the spaceship in Star Trek, onto a floating platform where it will become the star of New York's Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in the Hudson River. The museum is housed in a repurposed World War Two aircraft carrier and the shuttle will rest atop its flight deck.
The shuttle will open to museum visitors on July 19 after workers repair slight cosmetic damage to a wingtip, hurt during its Sunday barge trip from New York's Kennedy Airport to Port Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Poor weather delayed the shuttle's final trip to the museum, but systems were a go on Wednesday.
Enterprise was a test craft and never actually went into space, but that hardly mattered to the cheering crowds gathered Wednesday to watch the vessel float past other American icons like the Statue of Liberty and Freedom Tower to its new home at the museum.
Enterprise was the first of NASA's space shuttles. It was released mid-air from a Boeing 747 in 1977 for a series of gliding and landing tests at Edwards Air Force Base in California prior to the first shuttle flight in 1981.
The craft's planned name was Constitution to honor the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution; however a fierce letter-writing campaign by Star Trek fans was so overwhelming that the White House changed its mind, naming it after the fictitious spaceship operated by Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock.
NASA announced last April that it would retire its space shuttle fleet to locations in Florida, California, Virginia, and New York. At that time, it was decided that Discovery would replace Enterprise at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Virginia and Enterprise would fly north to New York.
Intrepid teamed up with NASA to bring the shuttle to its New York home. Enterprise will become the centerpiece of Intrepid's Space Shuttle Pavilion.
The museum says the new addition will enhance the space-related exhibits and educational curriculum and will highlight the humanity behind the hardware of the shuttle program.
It's an opportunity to get up close to something that we've all seen as an icon. Everyone can identify the silhouette of the shuttle. It doesn't matter what country you are from, said Chris Malanson, assistant vice president of exhibitions. We will be taking a look at all the different people that were involved in creating the shuttle and the success of the NASA program from the engineers to the designers to the people at mission control.
This is something that our institution does really well and we see it on the hanger deck and in the educational programs as well as in a lot of the tours, added John Zukowsky, chief curator. They talk not only about the technology of the machines, but they talk about the people who created the machines and who operated those machines and those human stories behind these great inventions.
Adult general admission tickets to the museum in mid-July including the Space Shuttle Pavilion begin at $28 while youth tickets start at $21 for kids seven and older. For more information, visit Intrepid Museum's website.